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Discrimination at workplaces in New York

On Behalf of | May 17, 2024 | Employment Law

Employees have the right to work without fearing that they’ll be discriminated against because of the color of their skin, their gender or other immutable characteristics. Unfortunately, discrimination remains a significant issue. Because of this, it’s critical for employers to take a firm stance against unlawful forms of harassment, discrimination and broader mistreatment.

Federal and state laws provide specific protections for all employees. It’s critical that these are upheld and that employees feel empowered to speak up when they encounter discrimination accordingly.

Federal and New York laws

Under federal law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against employees or job applicants based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. This law applies to employers with 15 or more employees and covers various aspects of employment, including hiring, firing, promotions, pay and working conditions.

New York provides additional protections against racial discrimination through the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL). This law applies to employers with four or more employees and includes protections against discrimination based on color, race, citizenship, national origin, creed or specific other identifying characteristics.

Types of discrimination

Direct discrimination involves overt and intentional actions that disadvantage an employee because of their protected characteristics. Indirect discrimination occurs when a seemingly neutral policy or practice disproportionately affects employees that possess certain characteristics.

Harassment is a form of discrimination that involves unwelcome conduct based on an individual’s protected characteristics. This can include slurs, jokes or other offensive remarks, as well as displaying racially offensive symbols.

Addressing unlawful discrimination

Employees who experience discrimination should report the incident to their employer by following the company’s internal procedures. It is also important to document the incidents in detail, including dates, times, locations, witnesses and descriptions of the discriminatory behavior.

Employees facing discrimination may also seek legal assistance to benefit from guidance on the best course of action and help gather evidence. Doing this quickly after discrimination occurs may make the process easier, partially because memory and evidence may fade or change over time.